Dotted throughout the crystal waters of the Barrier Reef are a multitude of tropical islands. There are untouched national park islands like the Frankland Island group, deserted coral cays, as well as the more popular, easy to get to Green Island and Fitzroy Islands both of which are home to island resorts. These two islands are the most visited, as they are just off the coast of Cairns. Boats leave for Fitzroy and Green Islands twice a day and return twice a day from the Reef Fleet Terminal on Pier point Rd at the Esplanade. Visitors can combine a half day on an island with an outer reef trip to a pontoon or with another activity. Although it may be wet in Cairns, it is often dry on the island; or vice versa.
Green Island: A small Coral Sand Cay just a short boat ride from Cairns, this is probably the most visited island by tourists who are seeking the island experience. It is a relatively small island and all facilities (including the five star Green Island Resort) are located close to the wharf. There are glass bottom boat tours as well as an underwater viewing location. The coral is not the most spectacular that can be found on the reef, but if you only have a short time in Cairns a half day trip to Green Island would be perfect.
Fitzroy Island is a favourite with the locals. It is a much larger island than Green Island. Its beaches are stunning and the water crystal clear, thanks to the 'sand' which is actually made of tiny pieces of coral and shells. There is a fairly new resort here that is also popular. The main beach near the pier is where most of the day trippers hang, but you will find the locals take the extra five minutes to walk around to Nudity beach, a totally unspoilt beach. There is excellent snorkelling around this cove and its rocky outcrops.
Double Island is the closest of all islands to the coast. Just off the headland at Palm Cove, the island is home to an ultra exclusive resort, where you can only hire the whole island. Many locals take kayaks out from Palm Cove and paddle out to this postcard perfect location.
Lizard Island is another ultra exclusive resort island, known for its stunning private (and remote) location, crystal clear waters and its excellent 5 star service. Those who can afford to stay on Lizard Island will usually fly from Cairns out to the island which is north of Cairns.
Dunk and Hinchinbrook Islands: These two islands are south of Cairns, Dunk was home to an excellent resort, but has been closed since severly damanged by a cyclone in 2011. Hinchinbrook is a wonderland its self. The best way to explore this large, mountainous island is via a chater boat. This way you can take the time to explore the beautiful deserted coves, moor your boat and trek inland to one of the many waterfalls on the island.